Shona Heaslip won Irish Universities cross country gold, Siofra Cleirigh Buttner breaks the Irish 800m indoor record and John Travers wins on the roads.

Irish national cross country champion Shona Heaslip made the long trip from Tralee to win the women’s race at the Irish Universities Cross Country, held over a challenging and spectator friendly course at Trinity Playing Fields, Santry.

Heaslip was pressed hard in the early stages of the 5000m race by Una Britton of DCU, but pulled away on the final lap for victory in 17 mins 56 secs.

Britton, cheered on by big sister Fionnuala McCormack, was second in 18 mins 6 secs, while third was Jessica Coyne of UCC in 19 mins 1 secs. With three finishers in the top six, DCU were comfortable winners of the team competition.

In the men’s 8000m, marathon man Sean Hehir, a masters’ student at Maynooth University, led on the opening lap, but was caught by Damien Landers from NUIG and UCD pair Tom O’Keefe and Paul O’Donnell.

It was soon clear that the medals would be decided between these three and they swapped and changed the lead a few times before Landers broke away for victory in 26 mins 34 secs, with O’Keefe second and O’Donnell third.

With six to count, it came down to the sixth placer for the team gold and DCU taking victory by four points from UCD; NUIG was third.

All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships, Waterford IT

Sarah Healy of Holy Child Killiney proved the star of the day at the All Ireland Schools Cross Country Championships in Waterford IT when she romped home an easy winner in the senior girls’ 2.5km race.

On a tough, slippery course, Healy finished almost a minute clear of Abbie Taylor from Wesley College with Niamh Ni Chiardha of Colaiste Iosagain third. Waterpark College were first team ahead of Loreto Kilkenny and Wesley College.

Her victory meant that Healy becomes the first Irish athlete to win titles in all four age groups from minor to senior. Before minor races were introduced at All Ireland level, newly crowned Irish indoor 800m record holder, Siofra Cleirigh Buttner won six titles in total – two each at junior, inter and senior level.

Winning his first Irish title in the boys’ senior race was Efrem Gidey, who arrived in Ireland only last year from Ethiopia and is a student at Le Cheile SS in Tyrrellstown His time of 21 mins 28 secs put him 14 seconds clear of Sean O’Leary from St Aidan’s CBS who had beaten Gidey at the Leinster Championships.

A close third was Keelan Kilrehill of Colaiste Iascaigh. In fourth place, Jamie Battle was leading Colaiste Mhuire Mullingar to an emphatic team victory over St Malachy’s Belfast and Blackrock College.

Winning the inter girls race was Maeve Gallagher of St Joseph’s Castlebar who came home ahead of Niamh O’Mahoney from Presentation Tralee and Holly Brennan of Holy Faith Drogheda. Taking team gold was St Dominic’s Cabra led home by Dora Medgyesy in 21st place. Loreto Omagh was second and Loreto Kilkenny third with just ten points separating the three teams.

In a closely fought inter boys’ 5000m, Michael Morgan of Summerhill College Sligo narrowly beat pre-race favourite Louis O’Loughlin of Moyne Park for victory. Belvedere College packed well to win the team competition, with Daniel Stone 16th their first placer.

Twins Dylan and Dean Casey from St Flannan’s College finished first and second in the boy’s junior race and helped St Flannan’s to the team victory.

Eleanor Godden of Loreto Kilkenny was first of the junior girls, and with three in the top ten, Loreto Kilkenny were emphatic winners of the team title.


On the roads, John Travers of Donore Harriers was a comfortable winner of the Bundoran 10-Mile in 53 mins 1 secs. Keith Shields of Foyle Valley was second and first M40 in 53:28.

First woman was Teresa Doherty of Finn Valley in 59 mins 43 secs.

Raheny’s Fiona Stack was second in 62 mins 10 secs. Martin Cox of Carmen runners led home 553 finishers in the 5km with a time of 15 mins 49 secs, while Martin McGowan was first of 669 finishers in the 10km in 37 mins 17 secs.

Foyle Valley’s Scott Rankin and Caitriona Jennings of Letterkenny AC were the winners at the Walled City 10-Mile in Derry. Their times were 53 mins 5 secs and 59 mins 13 secs.

On Sunday, Mark Ryan of Rathfarnham WSAF led home almost a thousand finishers at the Meath Half Marathon held in Bohermeen, near Navan with a time of 68 mins 22 secs.

A close second was Martin Hoare of Celbridge AC in 68 mins 43 secs. First woman in 77.46 was DSD’s Maria McCambridge.

Winning the 10km was Darragh Rennicks of host Club Bohermeen AC in 33 mins 6 secs; first woman was Catherina McKiernan of Annalee AC in 37 mins 23 secs. Results

NCAA Indoor Championships, Texas

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner of Dundrum South Dublin AC and Villanova set a new Irish indoor record of 2:02.46 when finishing second in the women’s 800m at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Saturday (March 10).

The time was not far off the 22-year-old’s outdoor best of 2:02.11 set last summer and was her first medal at the NCAA Indoors. Last year she finished eighth in the mile final and, in 2016, was ninth in the 800m, narrowly missing out on the final. Her time broke Ciara Everard’s five-year-old record of 2:02.54 set in 2012.

With a medal always her target, Cleirigh Buttner had advanced to the final with a top three placing in her semi-final in 2:03.55 a day earlier. She bided her time in a tactical final, lying seventh with a lap to go but turning on the speed at the bell and, with the line in sight, passing Sammy Watson of Texas A&M for the silver. Sabrina Southerland of Oregon won the race in 2:01.55.

In the men’s mile, Sean Tobin of Clonmel AC and Ole Miss finished tenth in 4:06.90. He had qualified from the preliminary round with a time of 4:02.35.

Tobin also ran the 800m in Friday’s distance medley relay for Ole Miss clocking 1:50.70. On the same leg, Harry Purcell of Trim AC was competing for Villanova, running a time of 1:49.51. Villanova finished eighth and Ole Miss tenth.

Indoors – Masters

Joe Gough of West Waterford AC proved the most prolific medal winner at the Irish Masters Indoors Championships held in Athlone IT on Saturday.

Gough, who recently set a new M65 record for 800m in Abbotstown, and will compete at the European Masters Indoors in Madrid next week, won the M65 200m, 400m, and 800m.

Winning both the W35 1500m and 3000m was former Irish international Keely Neely from City of Lisburn. Other double winners included Sneznana Bechtina of Clonliffe Harriers in the W35 400m and long jump; Anne Gilshinan of Slaney Olympic in the W50 800m and 1500m, and Ger Cremin of An Riocht AC in the 400m and 60m hurdles.

Olympian Shane Healy of MSB won the M45 800m in 2:03.73 for his first master’s title. Adding to her collection of honours was Niamh Fitzgerald of Lucan Harriers who just held off her old senior rival Anette Quaid of Leevale AC to win the W40 800m in 2:21.61. Winning the W35 title in 2:20.08 was Denise Toner of Clones AC.

Over 3000m, Jackie Carty of Kilmore AC was first W45, and Annette Kealy of Raheny Shamrock first W50. Winning the M35 3000m in 8:37.89 was Sean McGrath of East Cork AC. For the M60 title, Tommy Payne of Tinryland AC beat former M60 world champion Brian Lynch of North East Runners.

European Winter Throwing Cup

A team of six Irish athletes were competing at the European Winter Throwing Cup held over two days in Leiria, Portugal on Saturday and Sunday.

On the opening day, Eoin Sheridan of North Westmeath AC was just short of his personal best with a 51.80m for fifth place in the men’s U23 discus. In the senior event, DMP AC’s Marco Pons recorded a season’s best throw of 51.32m to finish 10th.

Adam King of Iveragh AC, who was consistently over 64m last season, has struggled with a hamstring injury, but managed 61.59m in the U23 hammer. In the women’s U23 shot on Saturday, Michaela Walsh of Swinford AC finished fifth with 15.15m. In the hammer on Sunday morning, she threw 58.03m.

Star of the team on Sunday was javelin thrower Stephen Rice of Sli Cualann with a personal best of 68.31m in the U23 competition.

That added over two metres to the 65.48m Rice threw last June Niamh Fogarty of North Westmeath, the baby of the team at only 18 years old, threw 46.76m in in the U23 women’s discus.

Finally in the shot putt, Sean Breathnach of Galway Citry Harriers, at 39 the oldest member of the team, had a best of 17.62m in the senior event while Finn Valley’s John Kelly produced a 16.98m effort at U23 level.